Glasgow & West Scotland

Immigration office criticised over delays in applications

People at Heathrow border control point Image copyright PA
Image caption Serious concerns have been raised about how immigration inquiries are handled in Glasgow

The chief inspector of Borders and Immigration has criticised the main immigration public inquiries office in Scotland over delays in applications.

A new report raises concerns about how cases are handled at the Glasgow centre.

It suggests people making applications face delays in their cases being dealt with.

And those who have been refused are staying on longer in the UK because they are not being notified of rulings.

Chief inspector John Vine's report highlights serious worries around checks and decision-making.

It says the absence of management assurance at the office in Brand Street, Glasgow, is "unacceptable".

The report is based on an inspection carried out in December last year.

It highlighted a small backlog in cases and concerns that during recent changes "no quality assurance of decisions took place."

Mr Vine said: "I was pleased to find that customer service provision in Glasgow was good.

"However, as with other recent inspections, I found an absence of management assurance to provide confidence that the decisions being made were reasonable. This is not acceptable.

"The introduction of a new working model had been poorly implemented.

New responsibilities

"Staff were adversely affected by this change, either because resources were not aligned correctly to deliver an efficient and effective service or because they had not been fully trained to undertake new responsibilities.

"This resulted in some applicants waiting many months for a decision, even though it had been decided that their applications would be refused."

The Home Office said they were pleased that the report "recognises the high levels of customer care provided."

A spokesman added : "We are committed to providing customers with the best possible experience, which is why we have also launched an extensive training programme for all our caseworkers and have undertaken a new recruitment programme.

"Both of these will ensure that service delivery continues to improve.

"We have already taken steps to address the concerns raised in this report and will continue to strive for excellence in this area."

A second report published by the chief inspector raises serious concerns about failures to tackle the growing problem of sham marriage.

It says there is no clear strategy across all Home Office departments to tackle the issue.

The report found the majority of decisions to refuse residence cards were reasonable and that there was an efficient process for identifying counterfeit documents.

However, it also criticised the fact that in some cases suspicions around sham weddings were not appropriately scrutinised.

It highlighted "significant" problems with non-European citizens trying to enter the UK by partnering EU citizens in sham marriages.

And that even individuals found to be using such deception were not generally prosecuted.

Mr Vine said: "I remain concerned about the general lack of prosecution and sanction against individuals found to have abused the system.

"If the Home Office does not act decisively to identify and tackle these abuses, many of the individuals involved may go on to obtain settlement in the UK on the basis of relationships that are not genuine."

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